Past, present and future in migrants experience of life coherence

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    This abstract presents the first theoretical thoughts in relation to a research project that will eventually include empirical qualitative research. The aim of this study is to look further into how migrants connect the past, the present and the future in their interpretations of their new life. Inspired by Aron Antonowsky’s theory of how a “sense of coherence” is an important factor when it comes to “manage stress and staying well” (Antonowsky 1987), the background of this study is that the ability to ascribe meaning to one’s life has a significant impact on how life is managed. What Antonowsky refers to as a “sense of coherence” is also an important theme in the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer, where a philosophical analysis of how humans create meaning in the process of understanding becomes a central aspect in his hermeneutics. In addition, there is a long tradition of research into human reaction to inconsistency within psychology, beginning with Leon Festinger’s “theory of cognitive dissonance” (1957). The importance of an overall connection between past, present and future is with these theoretical perspectives well documented in sociological, philosophical and psychological traditions.

    The empirical research part of this project will include interviews with migrants. Here, the focus is on how past, present and future are connected in the migrant’s interpretations of life and living in “the new country” (in this study, “migration” is defined as moving across borders). By comparing two larger groups of migrants, namely voluntary and involuntary migrants, the study could reveal different kinds of difficulties for different groups of migrants. However, the focus of the study is to reveal how human experiences of connecting past, present and future can be important in the general understanding of migrants’ adaption into a new society. Therefore, the study is also important in relation to integration policies.

    The empirical research will take place in Denmark and will involve migrants who are currently living in this country. However, as the theoretical perspectives address general and common human aspects of migration, the study will also be relevant from a global perspective.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2019
    Publication statusPublished - 2019
    EventHow should we live in cultural diversity? -
    Duration: 28 Nov 201930 Nov 2019


    ConferenceHow should we live in cultural diversity?
    Internet address


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